We Hope for Stronger, Not Weaker

Genie 2008 2009

It’s hard to see it when I am in front of them. When I return to our little compound at night and look through past slides, it becomes apparent. When I toggle between pictures from today and from last January of our friends here in camp Djabal, the difference is like night and day. The children are growing smaller, sicker, and more fragile as they age, not stronger as we hope for all children.

Guisma and Marymouda (Adef Children).JPGOumar seemed skinner, as if he had been sick for a sometime, but we don’t know for sure. When I saw his mother again, Genie, she had Hydar with her. In a little over a year, he looks no bigger or stronger; his little shoulder poking through a tank.

Gabriel and Yuen-Lin saw again our friends Adef, Achta, and their children. Well, some of them. Marymouda died. She got sick. When they took her to the clinic there was nothing they could do for her. Guisma was not smiling and laughing as she was last year. Her giggle was contagious and she would get her twin brothers rolling. Achta, their mom, said she had been sick too, but healed. It seems her sole and laughter have not returned.

One of Guisma’s twin brothers looks so different.

Hissein 2008 2009

The lucky ones who made it here are still struggling to survive on the little that we, as the international community, have been able to provide. Food distribution starts next week. That means that many of the people we have visited in the last few days have no food, as it usually runs out before the end of the month.

Please join Gabriel and Yuen-Lin as they fast in solidarity with the refugees. It can be whatever type of fast that works for you. I will not be joining them myself, as I have developed a small ear infection that kept me from the field this afternoon. I hope to return with full strength tomorrow. Nobody worry, I am fine! I just keep thinking, what if I were a refugee and felt like this?

Peace, ktj

Katie-Jay keeps i-ACT running on several levels. Much of her work entails coordinating partnerships with other grassroots organizations and implementing the campaigns developed by Gabriel and seeing through the details. She graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Sociology and a focus on Community Development. She has previously worked as a community organizer in Thailand, Guatemala, and with grassroots organizations across the United States.

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Category: Day 6: March 29 · Tags: , ,

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9 Responses to “We Hope for Stronger, Not Weaker”
  1. Corey D says:

    It is shocking to see the children looking worse. We like to think that once they get the refugee camp they are safe but the truth is that while they are better off then where they were they are a longshot from safe and secure.

    Seeing the children suffer is by far the most frustrating for me. As a father of 3, it tears at my heart strings to think of having to bury two children the way Adef had to do.

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for Adef and all those suffering in the Refugee camps, but I want to thank you Gab, KTJ, and YL for bringing these stories home and fueling the fire within me to do more everyday to educate, advocate, and participate until peace is achieved.

    I hope you feel better and thanks again for all you do.
    Corey

    • Gabriel says:

      Corey:
      I will share with Adef your note. He is so grateful for what people like you are doing for Darfur. He’s such a strong man, but you can just see the pain inside of him. Let’s be in touch, Corey. We need to do more. Let’s coordinate some actions, soon.
      Peace,
      Gabriel

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Dear Corey,

      We all hope that by living in the camps outside of Darfur that they safe, but how can one be safe from starvation if there is just not enough food. Something that strikes me so deeply is that this is a population who once could depend solely on themselves for survival. Isolated, perhaps, but content in living in the small villages that were kept small preciously to be scale to their environment. It really is hard to imagine what the IDP camps inside Darfur must be experiencing right now.

      Keep working for Darfur! The rally you held in Las Vegas was a much needed jump start – let’s keep things going for Adef and his wife Achta and four children.

      peace, ktj

  2. Lisa Goldner says:

    KTJ,

    I’m sorry you’re out of the mainstream hurting with an earache, on top of the heartache you’re having over the diminished state of so many of those in the camp. So much suffering all around.

    Hope you can sleep through the night and wake up with less pain. Take care.

    Hugs,

    Lisa

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hi Lisa,
      I am fine, I was just not strong enough to go to the camps. It was a really hard decision, but I hope now I can go the remainder of the days.

      hugs, ktj

  3. eric says:

    Adef’s story is so sad, I want to cry and scream. I wish there was some way for me to channel my energy into something that would make an immediate difference for families like Adef’s, so they don’t have to lose one more child to sickness because of lack of medicine and the desperate conditions they are living in. All I can do at this hour is keep plugging away at my mundane technical tasks in the late hours of the night, hoping that our effort will move others to care more, and do more.

    What would Adef’s late son or Marymouda gone on to do with their life if given the chance to live? Would Marymouda have gone on to a University and accomplished great things, would she have discovered an affordable vaccine for Malaria that could have saved millions of lives in Africa? Would Adef’s son gone on to be a great teacher that educated the children of tomorrow that would lead Sudan to a peaceful and prosperous futue? We as humanity have all lost so much with every senseless life lost in this genocide, mere numbers and statistics are a pathetically inadequate way to measure what has truly been lost. We should focus on what each individual lost life means, and not an abstract large numbers.

    Eric

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thank you, Eric, for pouring your heart and mind into changing the way people see genocide and Darfur. As the individuals that you speak of rather than the large abstract numbers. There was a question on the change.org blog that said, “Obama, what is a live of a Darfuri worth to you?” I think I would change this to. “Once your daughter had Meningitis. Now its spreading rapidly in a population with no access to medicine and very little food and water. What was it worth to you to save Sasha? What is potentially hundreds of Darfuris with no medical support worth to you?”

      peace, ktj

  4. carole says:

    poor katie,

    i hope your ear heals soon: wise not to fast. healing requires nutrition…

    i wrote and submitted a very short comment on starvation. it could have been a mile long, there is so much to say.

    i have to say it broke my heart to read my background materials (mostly medical texts and journal literature) and to write it. i cannot even imagine how your hearts must feel..

    just know that i carry you and all the people of darfur in my warm heart.

    carole

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hi Carole, thanks for your concern but really I am doing much better with some sleep and rest. I ate better today than yesterday and hope I wake up even more rested so I can go an entire day in the camps tomorrow.

      I will look for the comment and we will post it today as an entry for Day 7, so more people can see it!

      peace, ktj

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